Tips and Tricks for Dantian Activation
Here are a list of tips and tricks for activating the lower dantian (xiatian). The xiatian is where the alchemical action takes place. But how do we find the xiatian and get the darn thing working?
First of all we need methods. But what if, after we apply the methods nothing happens? Below is a list of additional stuff we can do to facilitate the process. This list is by no means complete, just some of the things that helped me.
- Properly locate it.
Ask a teacher or read a book for exact location. Play around with the location as well. The spot where you think it is might be off. It’s easy to get disoriented inside the body. Try using external references like the navel etc. to stay oriented inside.
- Figure out the knack (qiao) ourselves
To activate the xiatian requires us to use a special feeling inside the body. It’s up to us to figure out the feeling. Getting the xiatian going requires a combination of using the right kind of focus in the correct area and then you just softly allow it to warm up and start moving. Like blowing on the ember of a fire to get flame.
- Use lower space.
It’s right smack dab in the middle of this spherical space. If you know how you can compress the lower space to find the location of the xiatian quite easily. Working with the lower space is a great way to activate the xiatian as well.
- Figure out size.
It will be a different size for everyone. And in the beginning there might not be much going on there; it might just be a space.
- Use awareness and shen properly.
Get awareness and shen into the location. This will take focus and might be tiring. However, don’t use too much focus either. Find a balance. Move your awareness around the inside of the lower abdomen until you feel something. The feeling can be quite subtle at first, maybe a just tugging or a slight tremor.
- Use inner vision and inner hearing.
Inner vision and inner hearing help to focus the shen and the awareness in the body. I first stumbled upon my xiatian playing around with inner hearing, but everyone is different.
- Replenish Jing and Qi
If your jing and qi are not full enough you won’t find the xiatian. Working on foundation practices can help replenish these substances in the body. Internal martial arts, daoyin and qigong, are useful for this but not essential. Again, everyone is different.
- Practice late at night and early in the morning (between 11:00pm and 5:00am).
For me 4:00ish in the morning is a fantastic time for practicing alchemy. In the early morning the world is still, and stillness is essential for finding the xiatian.
I first heard my xiatian after not eating for a while. Take a couple days off from eating and you will find that the lower abdomen empties making it much easier to work inside the body. It’s also easier to tune into the subtle body after fasting for a bit.
- Practice with a full bladder
If we practice in the morning Wang Liping recommends not relieving ourselves first. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it increases the internal pressure of the lower abdominal cavity.
Withdrawing from the noise and bustle of our world also works wonders for neidan practice. The xiatian is a quiet, subtle, and delicate thing; it is easily missed when our mind and bodies are caught up in the rush of modern life.
- Simplify life
I once asked a Tibetan Buddhist monk how to enter deeper states of stillness, he said two things to me: “First, you have to want to, and second, simplify your life.” The same applies to finding the xiatian. If our life is too busy and hectic our shen energy scatters and it will be harder to gather it inside the body.
- Relax and empty body
First relax and then empty the body especially the inside of the torso.
Practicing with a teacher who is regulating the energy field you are sitting in and directing your shen while you work through the methods is also very helpful, some say necessary.
- Regular practice
While it doesn’t need to be practiced everyday, generally the more the better. But overdoing it won’t help either.
- youwei and wuwei
Find a balance between youwei and wuwei in your practice, too much doing and it won’t work. I find it best to err on the side of wuwei. Therefore lots of silent meditation, both integrated into the sessions as well as whole sessions of silent sitting.
- Seal off 3 lower yin gates properly
The three lower gates are genitals, huiyin, and anus. Follow the methods to seal them up.
- Seal off human universe (including seven upper openings) properly
It is easier to gather the shen and focus inside the torso when the body is energetically sealed up. I find pore breathing best for this. The Taoists call sealing up the seven upper openings (our sense organs) as putting the lid on the pot. Once the cauldron is set up, we need to put the lid on to get things cooking.